KCYA History




Kansas City Young Audiences (KCYA) has been the leading provider of high-quality arts education for 60 years! Established as a non-profit agency in 1961 by a group of dedicated volunteers, KCYA's original mission was to provide children, in Kansas City schools, an opportunity to see and hear classical music performances.


Since that time, Kansas City Young Audiences now provides programs in creative writing, dance, theatre, visual art as well as music and serves the greater Kansas City area. KCYA is an affiliate of the national Young Audiences Arts for Learning network, the leading provider of arts education programs in the United States.


Kansas City Young Audiences arts programs have helped more than 6 million children cultivate artistic expression; unleashing ideas, creativity, and individual problem solving skills.


Help ensure KCYA's rich history of arts education for children and young people continues for another 60 years! Support our 60th Anniversary Campaign today!


Donate Now



KCYA Timeline




Norman Hollander, cellist with the (then) Kansas City Philharmonic, recruits Lennie and Jerry Berkowitz and Mary and Bob Lyons to help form a Young Audiences chapter in Kansas City, dedicated to bringing classical music into schools. Volunteers scheduled the concerts, made up of small ensembles from the KC Philharmonic Orchestra, including Norman and his wife Helen who played the flute.



Kansas City Chapter of Young Audiences is formally incorporated in the state of Missouri as a 501 (c)3 corporation.





Kansas City Young Audiences hosts the Young Audiences National Conference in Kansas City.



KCYA hires BJ Adler, first full time Executive Director.





Kansas City Young Audiences assumes management of the Kansas City Arts Partners program. This partnership between 14 of KC’s most influential arts organization provides school districts (KCMO, KCK, Grandview and others) a comprehensive and sequential arts plan that provide every student in the district with access to quality arts education programs.



Kansas City Young Audiences hosts the Young Audiences National Conference in Kansas City.





National Medal of the Arts was presented to all Young Audiences national affiliates. The National Medal of the Arts distinguishes artists and patrons who have offered inspiration to others, either through artistic achievement or exceptional work on behalf of the arts. Recipients are selected by the President in collaboration with the National Endowment for the Arts.





Kansas City Young Audiences hosts the Young Audiences National Conference in Kansas City.



KCYA opens the Community School of the Arts (on the campus of St Teresa’s Academy) providing hundreds of children with dance, music, theatre, and visual art classes and camps every year.





KCYA celebrates their 50th Anniversary with numerous exciting events.

  • Young Audiences Arts Festival at KC Power and Light (Facebook album)
  • 10th Annual Crawfish Festival (beneficiary, not host) (Facebook album)
  • Artful Fools Day (Facebook album)
  • A Benefit Concert for Arts Education starring Idina Menzel with the Kansas City Symphony.



KCYA hosts Benefit Concert for Arts Education starring Audra McDonald. (Facebook album)


Josh Groban invites KCYA students to attend his Kansas City concert with back stage meet and greet! (Facebook album)



KCYA hosts bAm (because ARTS matter) (Facebook album)



Kansas City Young Audiences and Arts Partners Wichita host the 2015 Young Audiences National Conference in Kansas City.


KCYA hosts Benefit Concert for Arts Education starring Kristin Chenowith. (Facebook album)



KCYA hosts bAm! because ARTS matter. (Facebook album)


KCYA moves into newly renovated, creative space at 3732 Main Street. (Time-lapse renovation video)




KCYA hosts Grand Opening Celebration in their new home in Midtown: 3732 Main Street, creating space for more kids to participate in more arts. (View a few photos here or Facebook Album) View Grand Opening video


KCYA hosts Benefit Concert for Arts Education starring Brian Stokes Mitchell. (see photos)


Melissa Etheridge visits KCYA. (see photos or Facebook album)



KCYA joins the KS/MO Kennedy Center Partners in Education program with Liberty School District, Shawnee Mission School District and Midwest Trust Center at Johnson County Community College.


KCYA launches STEM + Arts Integration residencies with assistance from Young Audiences (national) and American Express.


KCYA expands partnership with LINC to provide multi-day artist residencies and workshops to children in after-school programs around the metro.


KCYA hosts Benefit Concert for Arts Education starring Renee Elise Goldsberry.




KCYA hosts Band Together and raises more than $42,000 to give direct support to our Teaching Artists affected by the pandemic forced shut-down of schools and our Community School of the Arts.


The COVID-19 pandemic forces KCYA and all local schools to close. KCYA adapts with virtual in-school programs, virtual classes and camps, and a virtual luncheon fundraiser. 



CSA begins hybrid in person (masked and socially distanced) and virtual classes.


KCYA Celebrates 60th Anniversary!



The rich history of KCYA and our accomplishments over the past 60 years were only made possible by you, our generous donors!


In tribute to our 60th Anniversary we are once again calling on you,
our loyal donors and friends, to support our important mission to engage all youth in the arts, promote creativity, and inspire success in education.


Donate Now!


For more information and sponsorship opportunities contact email Mary Needham or call 816.531.4022 ext 1004.